Windom takes Sprint Week win
TERRE HAUTE -- Chris Windom had become all too familiar with what second-place felt like as the USAC National Sprint Car Series held the fourth stop of Indiana Sprint Week's seven-night tour at the Terre Haute Action Track's First Financial Bank "Tony Hulman/Don Smith Classic" on Wednesday evening.
The Canton, Ill., native had established runner-up runs for all three of last weekend's stops at Gas City, Lawrenceburg and Kokomo. While those strong runs had put him out front of the ISW points standings heading into the Action Track date, Windom was ready to taste victory lane.
The road was far from easy as he was forced to the B-main after a fifth-place finish in his heat race after qualifying third fastest behind Bloom (20.640) and Levi Jones (20.724). However, Windom's fortunes began to look up as he dominated the B-main for the win ahead of Stanbrough and Daron Clayton.
Windom started seventh in the A-Main 30-lap feature and snatched the lead from pole-sitter Dustin Morgan on the second lap and held off a hard charging challenge from Keith Bloom Jr. and Jon Stanbrough to claim a well-earned feature win and the famed Winchester Rifles that come with a victory in the "Tony Hulman/Don Smith" Classic.
"We've run second the last three nights and I had to do what I had to do to win tonight," an excited Windom said following the race. "It was a hard fought one. I saw (Keith) Bloom coming on the outside there and I thought maybe they were going to start getting a run on top, but once I started pulling them back on the back straightaway on the bottom, I stayed down there and came out with a win."
Windom was able to find the quickest line for him right off the opening green and made his move on the leaders as Morgan started alongside Sullivan's Chase Stockon and in front of Jerry Coons Jr. and Tracy Hines.
"At the start of the race I just stuck to the bottom and everyone started washing back up the track. I caught the moisture coming out of (turn) two and I think I passed two or three cars and got the lead," Windom said. "The last few times we've been here I've ran the bottom and I've always been really fast here, we've just fallen out with mechanical issues.
"We set the car up to go wherever, but the fastest line was at the bottom for us," Windom added. "This is awesome, this is one of the coolest wins I've ever had."
Windom had his hands full with Bloom during most of the race as Windom hugged the bottom half of the track while Bloom was rim riding the high line along the wall. Windom held down the point for 13 laps before Bloom Jr. was able to cross the finish line ahead in first for laps 15-17.
Robert Ballou was another driver that thrilled the crowd as he rocketed forward from a 13th-place starting spot to join the fray for the lead. Ballou was elbows up along the middle and top of the track as he fought to control the ferocity of his MPHG No. 81's untamed horsepower. Ballou challenged Windom and Bloom, three-wide shortly before a lap-25 flip by Hunter Scheurenberg brought out the third red flag of the evening.
The re-start left Windom holding the tentative lead ahead of Bloom, Ballou, defending ISW points champion, Stanbrough, Dave Darland, Shane Cottle and Damion Gardner.
When the race went green for the final five circuits, Windom went right back to where his car was best, the bottom, and held down the point.
No one was going to take away his shot at the win this evening as Windom piloted his Fox Paving/Claxton Engines Maxim/Mopar across the line under the double checkered flag for one of the sweetest victories of his career.
Cottle came home fifth behind Ballou and won the Jack Kramer Memorial Hard Charger Award for passing the most cars. The award brought with it a very nice payday of $2,500.
The victory sends Windom into Thursday's (July 14) Brownstown Speedway stop with a 40-point (262 to 222) lead over Ballou as Bryan Clauson holds third (221).
"I don't even know how to describe it yet until it happens," Windom said of a potential ISW championship. "I'm thinking about it every day, but I'm just waiting and clicking them off day-by-day and trying to get these consecutive finishes up front. Hopefully it'll come. Derek Claxton, Yogi and Kenny and Margo Baldwin, I'd like to thank them for everything they've done for me," Windom said of his crew and car owners."
USAC Indiana Sprint Week
First Financial Bank "Tony Hulman/Don Smith Classic"
At Terre Haute Action Track
30-lap feature results
1. Chris Windom, 2. Keith Bloom, 3. Jon Stanbrough, 4. Robert Ballou, 5. Shane Cottle, 6. Damion Gardner, 7. Bryan Clauson, 8. Dave Darland, 9. Mike Spencer, 10. Levi Jones, 11. Jerry Coons Jr., 12. Wes McIntyre, 13. Dustin Morgan, 14. Chad Boespflug, 15. Critter Malone, 16. Blake Fitzpatrick, 17. Tracy Hines, 18. Hunter Schuerenberg, 19. Chase Stockon, 20. Justin Grant, 21. Jonathan Hendrick, 22. Daron Clayton, 23. Coleman Gulick. NT
First heat: (8 laps) 1. Gardner, 2. Bloom, 3. Gulick, 4. Malone, 5. Robbins, 6. Studley, 7. Rooke, 8. Clayton. NT
Second heat: (8 laps) 1. Boespflug, 2. Schuerenberg, 3. Jones, 4. Grant, 5. Cottle, 6. Spencer, 7. Hughes, 8. Hendrick. 3:06.59
Third heat: (8 laps) 1. Ballou, 2. Stockon, 3. Hines, 4. Fitzpatrick, 5. Windom, 6. McIntyre, 7. Bland, 8. Krockenberger. NT
Fourth heat: (8 laps) 1. Darland, 2. Coons, 3. Morgan, 4. Clauson, 5. Stanbrough, 6. Elson, 7. Simmons. 3:08.42
SEMI: (12 laps) 1. Windom, 2. Stanbrough, 3. Clayton, 4. Hendrick, 5. Spencer, 6. Cottle, 7. Elson, 8. McIntyre, 9. Robbins, 10. Rooke, 11. Simmons, 12. Studley, 13. Bland, 14. Hughes. NT